Most companies now have a customer experience strategy that leans heavily on digital interactions, such as online customer support, social media interactions, and digital advertising.
There are many advantages to this approach. For starters, digital customer relationship management is inexpensive. It also has the potential to reach customers all over the world. In addition, customers get the option to serve themselves with the help of chatbots, FAQs, guides, and even interactive forums.
But even in the height of the digital age, digital customer relationships aren’t enough—and you’ll need to bring in physical customer interactions if you want to stand a chance of long-term success.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why digital customer interactions aren’t sufficient.
Customers are tired of screens
For starters, many of your customers suffer from screen fatigue – whether they realize it or not. For millions of people, life consists of working on a computer, watching TV for recreation, and interacting with friends and family members on a smartphone or other digital device. They don’t want all their experiences to be digital. Navigating a complex customer service platform or spending time talking to chatbots or social media reps can be draining – even for people who thrive in the internet age. An in-person meeting or a personal phone call can be a total breath of fresh air.
Not all customers have convenient internet access
It’s easy to take for granted that most, if not all Americans have convenient internet access, but this isn’t the case. Several demographics, including the elderly, have limited or no internet access whatsoever. If you focus a disproportionate amount of your time and effort on digital customer experiences, you’ll be leaving these segments in the cold.
The best customer experience strategies are omnichannel
You’re likely already aware that the best customer experience strategies are omnichannel; in other words, you’re capable of reaching customers and interacting with them in many different ways. You have an online portal, a social media front, an email marketing strategy, and interactive forums where customers can see and talk to your brand. So why not include additional, non-digital channels to your exhaustive approach and see even more benefits?
Digital landscapes leave frustrating gaps
Even the best digital landscapes for customer interactions can have holes that leave customers feeling frustrated. If the chatbot can’t help them and your guides don’t give them the answers they want, they’re going to feel helpless—and motivated to go to one of your competitors as an alternative. By contrast, talking to a customer in person or over the phone can help you better understand and address their concerns. It’s also an opportunity to provide information that your digital guides are lacking (and possibly update them).
Distant interactions minimize customer loyalty
Business leaders love the idea of fostering brand-consumer relationships, but the reality is, brand-consumer relationships are limited. People can only truly connect with other people, who may happen to be representatives of your brand. If you make your company digital-only (or nearly so), your customers are going to feel distant—and their loyalty will naturally diminish, especially over time.
Your competitors are heavily invested in digital
Your competitors are likely matching—if not exceeding—your efforts in the digital space. But few of your competitors are investing as heavily in more personal experiences. Serving your customers in new and non-digital ways is an easy path toward competitive differentiation, helping you win customers from your rivals.
Ideas to serve customers beyond the digital space
That all sounds great, but how can you actually achieve customer experience beyond digital?
You have to go back to traditional strategies, to an extent. But the only limitations are your own creativity. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Provide more contact options. Give your customers many different ways to contact you; email and contact forms aren’t going to cut it.
- Reach out to customers via mail. Direct mail is a viable and cost-efficient strategy, whether you’re actively marketing and advertising or just saying hi to your most loyal customers.
- Make individualized phone calls. Reach out to your best customers with a personal phone call. They’ll appreciate you taking the time to do it.
- Host in-person customer appreciation events. Phone calls and direct mail are great, but they’re no substitute for in-person conversation. Consider hosting more in-person customer appreciation events to celebrate your followers and build better human relationships at the foundation of your business.
Two decades ago, the future was digital, and companies swarmed to take over that space. Now, companies are overinvested in digital customer experience strategies. If you want to stand out, win more customers, and keep those customers loyal, it’s imperative to go beyond the realm of digital interactions.